Historical origins of a cross-national puzzle: Homicide in Finland, 1750 to 2000

Jukka Savolainen, Martti Lehti, Janne Kivivuori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Cross-national studies of homicide are dominated by theories that focus on inequality and other structural factors as the source of variation in the level of lethal violence. As a nation with a comparatively high homicide rate in the presence of a strong welfare state, Finland represents a puzzle to this paradigm. The apparent weakness of the structural approach opens the door for cultural explanations. As the basic step in this path, the purpose of this research is to examine the historical origins of the Finnish problem with lethal violence. The authors find that the homicide patterns responsible for the exceptional status of Finland are of relatively recent origin. The authors conclude the study by proposing that specific features of the Finnish welfare state inadvertently sustain a subculture of alcohol-related lethal violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-89
Number of pages23
JournalHomicide Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol and violence
  • Cross-national comparisons
  • Finland
  • Historical trends

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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